Work from home in times of Lockdown | Challenges & Hacks

Work from Home in times of Lockdown | Tips & Challenges

Working from home is new for most people in the world right now. This is a huge deviation from the usual behaviour that has formed over decades of social conditioning where work happened at ‘workplace’ or ‘office’.

To understand the challenges people are facing everyday, I spoke to a few friends (all Indians but in different parts of the world) about how various facets of their daily lives have changed in these times. This is an account of my discussions with them.

I would also like to emphasize here that I am restricting this to only people who CAN work from home. A whole lot of people who’s work depends on being in an office, shop, factory etc. don’t even have this option during the lockdown imposed due to Corona situation. We (the ones who can wfh) should be thankful that we even have this option.

The biggest conclusion I could make based on all my conversations is that the difficulty level of work from home in times of lockdown varies for different people:

WFH < WFH with no house help < WFH with kids < WFH with kids & no house help

There are 4 key aspects of Work from Home in times of Lockdown that people need to manage:

  • Managing Daily Schedule
  • Managing Household Chores
  • Managing Remote Work
  • Managing Distractions

Managing Daily Schedule

The first major shock that people get when they start WFH is that they don’t have a dedicated 8-10 hr work time, as was the case when they went to office. This throws off most people. They need a new Schedule but there is no standard template for it. Everyone has to figure out what works for them.

Few things that people must factor in, especially in times of lockdown:

  • Time for household chores – Cleaning, Cooking etc.
  • Time for Kids / Family
  • Work schedule of your spouse, in case both are working
  • Work schedule of your other team members
  • Personal time – Exercise, Reading, Entertainment

Challenges in their own words:

“Biggest challenge is managing time with a kid”

“Earlier, I had to think about only my schedule while setting up a meeting, now I have to think about my wife’s schedule as well as my child’s schedule too!”

“Since the work now happens in smaller time slots, I feel like I am working the whole day but I am not sure how productive I have been”

“I don’t know how people are getting time for pursuing a hobby or upskilling themselves in this lockdown! I am struggling to even complete the bare minimum work & household tasks!”

Pro tips from people who have worked from home earlier as well:

“Discipline is the key. Create a schedule & follow it rigorously. Involve your family in it, they should know when you are at work and when you are not”

“When WFH, some days you are working 12-15 hrs, other days, may be only 3 hours. Don’t fret too much about time given to work. Focus on output. Keep 2-3 day targets for tasks. Difficult to manage daily level tasks due to distractions, at the same time weekly or longer targets can lead to complacency”

“Schedule a few slots (around 2hrs each) where you can do deep work. Other times, you can work with lower concentration while taking care of child or doing household chores. It is same as working from office. No one works with 100% concentration for 8-10 hrs in office also.”

Managing Household work

This is primarily a challenge for people in countries like India and other Southeast Asian countries because we are used to of house help. Countries where house help isn’t available anyway, no major change for them.

Challenges in their own words:

“I didn’t know cooking 3 meals a day is so time taking activity, including planning the meal, cooking & cleaning up afterwards”

“I thought I will be saving a lot of time on commute. Didn’t realize household work will take away all that time and more!”

“Since you are not used to of these household chores, your efficiency is also very low”

Pro tips from people who have managed this earlier as well:

“You soon realize you can manage without mopping the floor everyday 😊”

“Cook one time, use it for multiple meals”

“Washing Machines & Dishwashers are a good investment 😊”

Managing remote work

Remote work has its benefits as well as its challenges. While this reduces costs for the organization, gives flexibility to the employees, working with teams becomes a challenge, it is difficult to build culture, bonding, engagement etc.

Few things that people need to plan for when working remotely:

  • Having the right tools – Video conferencing, Task management, regular communications, collaboration etc.
  • Mapping team members’ schedules to some extent so that collaborative work can be done properly
  • When to disengage from work. WFH doesn’t mean work all the time.

Challenges in their own words:

“Banter has gone away, have only professional communication now”

“Refreshing breaks are missing like the planned chai break in office”

“No. of meetings have increased a lot. Waste of time in managing the logistics of each meeting (connectivity, everyone’s availability etc.).”

“Follow-ups taking more time because everything requires a call. Also, calling again and again doesn’t feel right.”

Pro tips from people who have worked remotely earlier as well:

“Schedule breaks in your daily plan, helps to get refreshed”

“Everything needn’t be scheduled as a calendar item or a meeting. Just pick-up the phone and call.”

“Respect your team member’s constraints & schedules. Try to fix some common time slots where everyone in the team is at work so that most collaborative work can be done during those slots.”

Managing distractions

One of the biggest challenges of WFH are the distractions that you have, both physical as well as digital. There are ways in which the distractions can be reduced:

  • Having a dedicated workspace is very important. A proper desk and an office chair are much better than any make shift arrangement.
  • Share your work schedule with you family members so that they know when you are working and shouldn’t be disturbed unless very urgent.
  • Use apps that can help you manage your screen time and other distractions caused by your smartphone.

Challenges in their own words:

“My phone usage / screen-time has increased a lot“

“You can schedule work slots but a knock on the door or a cranky child need to be attended to on an urgent basis”

“Office environment has some unsaid social norms that make sure that you don’t, for example, spend a lot of time watching videos on you smartphone. At home, no one is watching you, so it requires conscious effort to not get sucked into the social media rabbit hole and waste time”

Pro tips from people who have worked remotely earlier as well:

“Using whatsapp web or social media on web helps in getting back to work faster”

“Make sure you are sitting at your designated workspace in the defined work slots, even if you don’t have enough work. It helps in building the habit for you as well as your family”


Working from home has its challenges but it is definitely going to be a significant part of the future-of-work. It can be very rewarding, especially in form of the flexibility that it has to offer, if one figures out how to strike a balance between personal & work time. It is important that each one of us take this forced lockdown as an opportunity to figure out what combination works for us.

Sorted AI is geared towards helping people become more productive, whether working from home or not. In the world with information overload, Sorted AI helps users become more focused, more organized and more productive, by reducing the distractions, organizing the information & making it actionable.

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